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Definition: Acts of the Apostles from Philip's Encyclopedia

Book of the New Testament describing the spread of the Gospel of Christ immediately after his death and resurrection. It mainly focuses on Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The book was probably written (c.AD 65) by the author of the gospel of St Luke.


Summary Article: Acts of the Apostles from The Columbia Encyclopedia
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Image from: The Death of Ananias, from a series depicting the Acts of the Apostles, woven at the Beauvais Workshop under the direction of Philippe Behagle (1641-1705) 1695-98 (wool tapestry) in The Bridgeman History of Science

book of the New Testament. It is the only 1st-century account of the expansion of Christianity in its earliest period. It was written in Greek anonymously as early as c.A.D. 65, but more likely later in the century, as a sequel to the Gospel of St. Luke. Luke has been traditionally regarded as the author. It falls into two divisions. The first 12 chapters focus on Peter and are an account of the Palestinian church from the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost until the death of King Herod Agrippa I in A.D. 44. Chapters 13–28 deal with the missionary work of Paul, his arrest in Jerusalem, and his trial and journey to Rome. Passages written in the second person plural suggest that the author was a companion of Paul, though it is also possible this was a literary device lending vividness to the travel narrative. Acts conveys the author's particular concept of the Holy Spirit's providential guidance of the plan of salvation in history in the face of Jewish and Roman opposition. When believers encounter Roman officials, Acts seems to stress the political innocuousness of the believers.

  • See Gasque, W. W., A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles (1975).
  • Bruce, F. F., The Book of Acts (rev. ed. 1988).
  • Lüdemann, G., Earliest Christianity According to the Traditions in Acts (1989).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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